Cookies with Kids

One of the best parts of the holidays is sharing the magic of the season with friends.  Every year we get together with our good friends Christiana and Todd and their kids and decorate cookies together. I still remember our first cookie party five years ago when there was only one kid decorating cookies. Jamie and I didn’t have any kids of our own, but we set up the party for our friend’s daughter because we knew she would love it. Times have changed and our families have grown! We now have five kids standing around our kitchen island decorating cookies, and next year there will be seven kids between our two families! We definitely believe the more the merrier… but we have also come to realize the more the messier! We don’t mind the kids making a mess, but we have discovered that the kids have more fun when things are a bit more organized and don’t feel as chaotic. We’ve learned a few things over the years about hosting a cookie party and thought we would share a few of our tips! Make the Dough! Use a good recipe for making your dough! We have previously posted Jenny Cookie’s sugar cookie recipe here  in addition to the best soft gingerbread cookies here. Make the dough early enough so you have time to roll your cookies out the day before your cookie party!

On another note… you could skip this step altogether! Check with your local bakery or grocery store to see if they have cookie decorating kits where you can just purchase fresh baked cookies directly from the store! Lets be honest… sometimes there just isn’t time to do all the baking yourself, and thats ok!

Roll it out! Roll the cookies out before all of the kids arrive! We used to have all of the kids participate in rolling out cookies. While it is fun to do with one or two kids, rolling out cookies with five kids, is tough. We found that they had a hard time being patient through rolling enough cookies to actually decorate and then waiting for them to bake and then cool. Most kids are really excited about adding the frosting and the sprinkles, so baking the cookies ahead of time allows the kids to do what they really love most!

I rolled out most of the cookies myself, but it sure was fun to have my little buddy next to me rolling out a little bit of dough and experimenting with how to use a rolling pin!

 3. The icing on the cookie! While I love the look of smooth royal icing on a sugar cookie, it’s not very easy or fun for kids to work with. We like using buttercream… or perhaps I should call it fake buttercream- you know the fluffy kind bakeries ice their cakes with that is entirely unhealthy but still tasty! You can find our recipe here from a post we did several years ago!

Make your icing ahead of time and color it to your desired shades! We use AmeriColor food coloring in small amounts, or just keep the icing white!

You can also just purchase icing from your local bakery or grocery store!

Sprinkle it up! At our very first cookie party two year old Isola referred to the sprinkles as “toppers” and the name has kind of stuck with us! We like to find a variety of fun and unique sprinkles in the color palette of the party. We source our sprinkles from places like Williams Sonoma , Wilton  or Etsy!

Minimize the mess! We don’t mind kids making the mess, but if we can minimize the amount of clean up we have to do afterwards, it gives us more time to spend with our family versus being overwhelmed with clean up! Here are a few supplies that have come in handy for us:

  • Takeout containers with lids work great to quickly color and store your icing
  • Disposable decorating bags allows for quick clean up at the end
  • Icing bag ties  help keep the frosting in the decorating bag by tying off the end
  • Small cookie sheets for each kid to decorate on keep the sprinkles (mostly) contained
  • Paper souffle cups  are perfect for rationing sprinkles out to each kid ( this helps us avoid the whole sprinkle bottle from being poured out on just one cookie or kids fighting over which color of sprinkles they currently want to use!)

Standing higher! We get the kids closer to the action with the use of towers and stepping stools. We have a couple of  these learning towers that have been gifted to us. We love this brand because of the solid construction and that the towers are adjustable for different heights to accommodate various stages of childhood. Our step-stools are probably from Target- Nothing special, but great to have on hand!

Freedom and Fun! I love that our kids feel free to decorate their cookies however they want. We try to just let them explore and figure things out on their own unless they ask for help. I love seeing what they each come up with, what colors they prefer using and creating what they find beautiful in their little minds! The kids get so focused on what they are doing, and then are so proud of themselves for what they have created. Except for London. She’s just there to eat the cookies (with monitored consumption of course).

Take photos! It’s so crazy to think that Isola was only two years old when we made our first cookies together. Watching her grow into the young lady she is becoming has been a joy… she’s also developed some impressive cookie decorating skills since that first party. I wish I had photos from that first year. Watching how the kids have changed and developed from year to year is really special and the photos from this party each year are things I really treasure.

Get in on the Action! Parents deserve to have some fun too! When the kids are done and lose interest, take some time and create your own cookies… It will make you feel like a kid again! This is the first year that our kids were old enough to really go and play on their own in the adjoining room while we were able to have some decorating fun! Something tells me 10 years from now it will just be us decorating the cookies while the kids are off spending time with each other.

 

Tied up in String! The first year we decorated cookies together, we got to the end and I realized we didn’t have anything to package the cookies and send them home in. We are more prepared now, and have a variety of different bakery boxes that our friends can package their cookies up with, like these bakery boxes!  Having ribbon to tie up the package makes it special and festive! The velvet ribbon in the photos was a vintage find, but you can purchase similar ribbon from ETSY and the chunky yarn is from Michaels!

Life is better done together! The most important thing that I am reminded of every time we see our friends, is that life is better when we do it together. Our community is our support, encouragement and cheering squad through the ups and downs of life. Investing into the kind of friends that truly know your heart and allow you to just be yourself, and push you to be the best version of yourself is worth its weight in gold.  True friendship is hard to come by and is truly the best kind of gift you can receive in this world… although good cookies with some icing and “toppers” might be a close second!

Photography: Alanna Maria Photography 

10/40

 

Through the Eyes of an Attendee

One of our greatest joys from hosting workshops is the people we have gotten to know over the years. I never imagined that so many diverse people would be drawn to our studio and what we do, but our studio has been filled with people from around the world and from every walk of life. They bring their unique stories, personalities, dreams, hopes, fears, insecurities and talents with them and they leave a lasting impact on me. Our intersecting journeys have enriched my life more than I could possibly put into words.

Steph Wall, the creative force behind Wallflower Studio, is one of these past attendees who has left a deep and lasting impression on me. She originally applied for a scholarship (which she didn’t get- sorry Steph) but then decided to make the investment to still come. She flew all the way from Australia to be part of our workshop. I’m humbled and blown away anytime someone chooses to come that type of distance to be with us. The workshop had a deep impact on her life, and she was generous enough to share her experience with us.

FROM STEPH:

“This June I flew to the US to attend the Sinclair and Moore Real Wedding Workshop in Seattle. Turning up on the first day I was honestly so nervous! This had been on my bucket list for so long, and now it was actually happening! There aren’t really adequate words to describe the surreal feeling of actually walking into that iconic workshop space for the first time. I held back tears and I couldn’t believe that I was really there! I made sure I took a moment to be still and present and soak it all in, but honestly, once I saw all the incredible flowers waiting for us I couldn’t stop grinning!

There was a real energy shift as soon as Steve arrived and the nerves really kicked in for me. After opening the most beautiful welcome gift boxes (seriously, the MOST beautiful!) Steve really encouraged us to be totally open and vulnerable and share our stories, our dreams and our struggles. This proved to be so pivotal for me as someone who has a tough time being vulnerable, I suddenly realised that I connected with and related to every other attendee there. All the nerves I had been feeling immediately fell away and there was almost a sense of family between this group of us that had only just met.

The immaculate Sinclair and Moore Instagram feed of perfect weddings and that beautiful family really don’t let you see how openly candid, authentic and hilarious Steve is. Our conversations felt more like I was chatting to an old friend, not this guy that I had followed and admired from afar for so many years. His approach to his business, his clients and even his competition is completely refreshing, enlightening and completely inspiring as well. Getting the opportunity to work on a real wedding is so unique as far as workshops go and having an abundance of beautiful flowers at our disposal was not lost on any of us. The end results were so incredibly beautiful that we all cried when the Bride arrived!

The workshop not only taught me some excellent new practical skills but it taught me so much about myself. That was something I was not expecting and it opened up so much for me personally, it has been truly life changing and the flow on effect from that has been so incredible and so surprising in the most excellent way. For anyone who might be sitting on the fence and not sure if it will be worth investing the money in a Sinclair and Moore workshop, I can tell you honesty that I would do it again in a heartbeat, without a second of hesitation. It’s true that investing in yourself is so important. Attending the workshop changed everything for me and I am so grateful. I left with a new group of international friends, a new sense of purpose, feeling reenergised and inspired to drive my business forward. “

Thanks Steph for taking the time to write about your experience!

Since that workshop Steph attended 5 months ago, she has flown back to the United States twice to continue learning from us and working in the studio on some of our major weddings. She has become a dear friend that we consider part of our family. Like I said at the start of this blog post… the connections that we have made with people is absolutely the biggest highlight and greatest joy of hosting these workshop.

We hope to meet you, welcome you into our studio, hear your story and get to know you this year at one of our workshops! Registration launched yesterday and the courses are starting to fill up! Make sure to snag a seat! Early bird pricing and payment plans available! Click here to check out all of the details!

photos: Ryan Flynn Photography 

4/40

This is Thirty-Nine

Today I turn thirty-nine. THIRTY-NINE! How did this happen? As I approached my last year in my thirties I found myself reflecting, re-centering, goal setting and dreaming for the future. I had planned to call this post ‘Forty Before Forty’ and share a list of things that I want to accomplish before my next birthday… things that are both big and small, some easy and some risky, things that are meaningful and some that are just for fun. But as I was writing this post, I decided to hit the pause button on my ambitions today.

You see, as I worked from upstairs in our home, there was a lot going on downstairs. I could hear the excitement in my son’s voice and his squeal of delight as he was working hard to decorate the house for my birthday. I could smell the cake that my wife was baking for me. I could feel the vibration from the pounding on the floors as my daughter jumped her way around the house. These sounds and smells reminded me of what a beautiful life I’d already been given, and of all the good and joy that surrounds me. I couldn’t help but just stop, be still and take it all in.

Don’t get me wrong… I still have my list of ‘Forty Before Forty’ and I want this last year in my thirties to be intentional, focused and disciplined… but today I added to the top of my list to live each day with joy and gratitude no matter what the day may bring.

Thirty-nine… let’s do this! We’re coming for you Forty!

These photos were taken by Katie Delorme this summer in my in-laws backyard while we shot our new online course with the team from Once Wed and If I Made! Huge thanks to Jamie and my mother in law Gail for making all of the pies, and to Cozbi for all of her creative assistance while we did this scene for the online course!

And while I chose not share my ‘Forty before Forty’ list today, I will say that one of my goals is to post 40 blog posts in the next year. Putting it out there so I can stay on track and be held accountable to it! So here is 1/40. Hope you guys follow along this year to see how this unfolds!